On May 19, 2020, it was reported that Houthi forces detained Hodeidah University lecturer Wadih Al-Sharjabi.
Several days prior to being detained, Al-Sharjabi, a communications lecturer, had demanded over Facebook that the militia release several university students who were arrested for allegedly fighting alongside Yemeni government forces. According to a representative of a Yemeni journalists association, he was also targeted for his writings.
As of this report, there is no public information indicating Al-Sharjabi’s whereabouts or status.
Since the civil war began in 2015, the Houthis have exercised a high level of control over educational institutions, personnel, and students in areas under their control. This has included frequent reports of scholars and students detained, kidnapped, or otherwise punished for alleged expression or associations that the Houthis believe to indicate disloyalty or dissent.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arbitrary detention of a scholar for nonviolent academic or expressive activity — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Yemen is a party. All parties to a conflict must refrain from the detention and disappearance of non-combatants, including members of higher education communities. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, detentions intended to silence scholars undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.